Foreign Fridays Fact: Japan

Foreign Students's picture

As part of a brand new version of Foreign Fridays, we will be exploring a different country each week through its most unusual, amusing and odd facts. We will post it right here on the blog, as well as on the all new Foreign Fridays page. If you want your country to appear, then simply get in contact with us either in the comments below or through Facebook or Twitter.

As we enter in to 2012, the fact for Foreign Fridays this week had to be related to New Year's really didn't it? Well we've come up with a cracker for Japan.

At midnight on New Year's Eve in Japan, Buddhist temples strike a gong 108 times, with each ring representing one of the 108 types of human weakness that must overcome to achieve nirvana.

Every country has its own customs on New Year's Eve, though whilst most will do something related to the number 12 or 24 at midnight, Buddhists in Japan use the number 108. Apparently there are 108 earthly temptations that can cause human weakness, and the ultimate spiritual aim of nirvana cannot be reached until all of these have been overcome.

The Buddhists use the ideas of fresh beginnings and a new start that most cultures signify New Year with, and so strike their gongs 108 times in an effort to expel every different type of weakness. Surely a more spiritual way to enter the New Year than with a glass of champagne and a party popper, tradition requires patience and meditation.  

Share with friends